What is Statutory Holiday Entitlement?

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  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2020
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Statutory holiday entitlement means legislated time off for workers written into government law by statute. This amount of time varies by country and some countries do not have a law defining a minimum time off to which workers are entitled each year. This doesn’t mean that most employers in a country without statutory holiday entitlement wouldn’t offer paid time off, but it could mean that the exact amount from each employer can’t be expected, and employees have little protection under state or federal law that they’ll get a certain amount of vacation time.

Some of the most generous statutory holiday entitlement laws exist in Europe. Ireland, the UK, Russia, and Lithuania have laws guaranteeing full-time employees 28 minimum days off per year, not including national or bank holidays, which can bring the total up to over 5 weeks of paid time off. Finland, Brazil (in South America), and France exceed this, offering 30 minimum days off plus national holidays. Many countries offer between three and four weeks or 22-26 days and Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Greece and Austria are among these.

There are countries where statutory holiday entitlement laws are not so generous. China, Canada and India, give yearly paid leave equivalent to 10-14 days. Many countries fall in the middle, offering legislated paid leave between 14-21 days.


In any of these countries, the statute can be different and it should be noted that employees might need to have worked a certain amount of time to be entitled to a specific amount of yearly vacation time. While most employees immediately get public holidays off, the actual amount of days off via vacation may depend on time employed. Some employees have to work at least a year or several years to fulfill the terms of statutes regarding paid leave.

Some countries don’t have a statutory holiday entitlement. The US is one of these. There is no law in existence that mandates a certain amount of paid leave for employees.

Many employers still try to honor the spirit of such laws, and average worker paid time off in the US is between 10-15 workdays, exclusive of holidays. Even though no minimum days may be guaranteed by statute, employers who offer paid vacation as part of a contract to workers tend to have to honor it. There can be laws in various regions governing the terms of a contract made between employee and employer at the time of hire. The best way to guarantee a minimum amount of time off is to have it written in a contract when an employee takes a job.

It should also be noted that many employers in countries with a statutory holiday entitlement exceed the amount guaranteed by statute. As employees stay with a company longer they may get more than the minimum number of vacation days. This is true in places like the US too, where loyalty to a company, calculated in years worked, is often rewarded with extra days off each year.


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Post 1

Some employees can take a full month off every year in addition to normal holidays? That actually sounds fantastic. Here in the United States, it seems only educators are given such generous leave time while the rest of us slobs are lucky to get a couple of weeks a year for vacations, sick time and etc.

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